Security forces fire teargas as protests break out in Syria

Hundreds take to the streets in and around Damascus after Friday prayers to protest against Baath Party rule; activists say demonstrations also begin in coastal cities of Latakia, Banias.

By REUTERS
April 1, 2011 15:32
1 minute read.
Pro-government rally in Damascus

Syria Pro-government rally 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

AMMAN - Protests broke out in three Syrian cities against Baath Party rule after prayers on Friday, Syrian activists said, two days after President Bashar al-Assad termed mass protests demanding freedoms a foreign conspiracy.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in and around Damascus, where security forces fired teargas at protesters in the suburb of Douma, and in the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, they added.

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The presence of security forces and Assad loyalists was heavy around mosques where the protests broke out, the activists said.

"The regime is using a new tactic. It is no longer security forces alone confronting the protesters, but they are just as brutal," one of the activists said.

Facing an unprecedented challenge to his 11-year rule, Assad announced Thursday he had ordered investigations into the deaths of demonstrators in two protest-racked cities, and taken steps toward reassessing the country’s despised emergency law.

Assad also said he had ordered authorities to examine granting citizenship rights to Syria’s largely disenfranchised Kurdish community. The state news agency SANA said Assad had formed a committee to “solve the problem of the 1962 census” in the eastern region of al- Hasaka. That census resulted in 150,000 Kurds who now live in Syria being denied nationality.

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